Lately, much of my revision energy has been focused on rearranging the pieces in a scene and shuffling those scenes around in a story. The fact that this simple thing has occupied so much of my time is funny to me. It feels like such an easy thing, and yet I'm finding that it's having a big effect on how engaging my prose can be (in my opinion).
Today, for example, I was working on Cyberlama, and I wrote a chapter that discussed a news story in which one man murdered another man. I wrote on the topic from start to finish, including events before the murder, the actual murder, and then some people's speculations on why the murder had occurred. But, when I was done, I asked myself what would happen if I didn't get into the speculations right away. Instead, I took that chunk out of the chapter and pasted it in several pages later, after I had already written about a couple of other, unrelated topics in between.
For me, shuffling the scenes this way gives my story more tension and also makes the speculations more powerful somehow. There's more tension because the murder story doesn't quite feel complete. It's like a subtle form of a cliffhanger. There are some questions left unanswered. I think breaking up the scene also makes the scene more powerful because when the speculations are farther away from the actual murder events, they resonate more...like they resonate beyond all of the material I inserted between the murder and speculation. By bringing it back at a later time, it feels like something important that keeps re-emerging in my narrator's mind.
I find that I also rearranging things to keep similar elements closer together. I had, for example, a scene where a woman brought her violin in to play for a group of people. When I originally wrote the scene, the violin performance was broken up by the thoughts of some of the audience members. While I was revising, though, I ended up putting all of the audience members' thoughts at the end, so that the the performance was told in one continuous passage. I felt like that made the concert experience more vivid.
Has anyone else focused on moving elements around like this? Like I say, I'm not sure why it's taking up so much of my attention at the moment. But, I'm realizing that it's a powerful revision tool, one that I hadn't taken advantage of as much in the past.